“Surges in respiratory illnesses are overwhelming children’s hospitals across Canada, prompting calls to reintroduce masking in schools.

‘It’s a pediatric healthcare crisis of a proportion that I don’t think anybody has seen in their careers at this point,’ said Lennox Huang, chief medical officer and vice-president of medical and academic affairs at Toronto’s Hospital for Sick Children.

Across Ontario, all pediatric intensive care units are operating at more than 100% capacity. The situation is impacting adult services, too, as hospitals are diverting pediatric patients to adult ICUs.

The province has instructed all hospitals to work at up to 150% of their usual operating capacity, up from 120% under normal surge plans.

SickKids is redeploying staff and cancelling scheduled surgeries to prioritize emergency procedures, Huang told CMAJ. ‘It’s all hands on deck.’

‘We’re seeing nurses, physicians, and respiratory therapists working in areas they wouldn’t have otherwise,’ he said. ‘Physicians are, in many cases, doubling up on the number of shifts, clinical work, and calls that they’re doing to meet the clinical demand.’

Calls for masking in schools as respiratory infections overwhelm children’s hospitals via CMAJ.

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